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Sometimes it’s hard to grasp the difference between marketing and sales. This is particularly true in a small business where the same people may wear both hats.

In a nutshell, marketing comes first. It is the way you present yourself and your products to potential customers. Sales is the next step where you move from presenting to connecting.

Know your target market

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth taking time to discover exactly who your potential customers are. If you can’t define your market in clear and concise terms then part of your marketing effort will be wasted. You can’t expect to hit a bullseye if you don’t know which target you’re aiming at.

One of the most common mistakes a business can make is assuming they can sell their product or service to everyone. This is rarely true. Even the simplest and most straightforward looking businesses only appeal to a limited sub-section of the population.

Suppose, for example, you run a furniture business and you want to sell online. Are you at the high end of the market where people are looking for high quality, handcrafted antiques of the future or are you selling low cost mass produced furniture?

If you’re operating at the higher level your marketing will need to reach the small, but mainly wealthy, group of traditionalists who appreciate excellence and have the money to afford it. If you’re aiming down market you’ll need to reach young families with lower incomes.

These two groups are likely to have different needs and motivations. They are also likely to use the Internet (if they use it at all) in dramatically different ways.